Actions Organize the Infant’s World

Jean M. Mandler

in Action Meets Word

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780195170009
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199893300 | DOI:
Actions Organize the Infant’s World

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This chapter begins by discussing how infants begin to interpret events and how they represent different kinds of actions. These interpretations tend to be global in nature, with details only gradually added. It then considers the implications of this organization of conceptual life for the first stage of language learning. In particular, the goal is to characterize the conceptual system which 1-year-olds have available to learn relational terms that deal with motion along paths through space. Finally, the chapter summarizes recent data showing how a common underlying conception of various containment actions in infancy becomes linguistically expressed in quite different ways in Korean and English. This work leads to the conclusion that the proportion of verbs in early speech may neither accurately reflect the knowledge that infants have of actions nor, as has sometimes been speculated, difficulty in parsing actions into their component parts.

Keywords: infants; actions; language acquisition; Korean language; English language; early speech; verb learning

Chapter.  11542 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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